In the haze of traveling, moving, discovering a new city and baring the humidity of D.C, I completely had lost track of the days until it was brought to my attention that today was Monday, June 7th.
In other words, 4 days from when I turn 2 years from 5 years from 30.
This is terrifying.
I never cared much for my age. In fact, when I was younger I was always bored, waiting till the day sI hit those epic numbers: 13, 16, and 18.
Turning 20 wasn’t that bad – I was stoked to finally be out of my teens, to be on my way towards adulthood. But since turning 9 years from 30 – as from now on every age is defined in terms of its numerical distance from 30 – a sort of paranoia and obsession has gripped me.
I’ve never been the sort to care for the idea of aging. For as long as I could remember, I’ve ached for the day my hands would gain the sort of elegant age and slightly worn smoothness that defines the contours of my mother’s hands. There was so much character in her hands – they spoke of years of experience: the stress of medical school; the joy of marriage; the endless loving of and raising her children; the exhaustion of working alongside my father through the various businesses he had had over the years; the sadness while holding her parents’ hands minutes before her flights would depart from Pakistan; the aroma of hours of amazing dishes she had cooked over the years and her last grasp of her daughter’s hand before she left for school, 3000 miles away, at the age of 18.
Yet that very same age, wisdom and nuanced beauty I once aspired to call my own has now become my greatest dread. Somewhere between 21-almost 23 I became filled with horror as I saw that experience overwhelm not my hands, but my face. This past year, I began seeing the stress of five years of school, emotional disruptions, and everything in between make their abode upon my face. For the first time in my life, I felt old. At 22.
And it doesn’t help that I’m constantly reminded of the fact that I am now “old.” According to my parents, I am quickly approaching the point-of-no-marriage, commonly referred to as 25 or 5 years from 30. This creates a bit of a problem in their plans for grandkids and their general tendency as Pakistanis. Seriously, my people are obsessed with marriage to an unhealthy extent.
Being in a Master’s program also makes me ‘older’ – as I become more intellectually mature. It also puts the perspective of “OH HEY CAREER” into my mind, thus forcing me to consider that oft-ignored area of my life a bit more seriously. And that involves a whole new level of responsibility which is like whoa, I didn’t sign up for this when I was a fetus.
I start sifting through the photos of myself from high school, an age I always thought was awkward but while staring at the photos I realize “damn.” Doesn’t help that whenever people see those photos they usually respond with “Whoa, what happened?”
But, to be slightly (more) serious – I’ve realized that these feelings of paranoia of aging, towards which I’ve always held strong negative opinions, are becoming inevitable in a society so obsessed with youth. Not that youth hasn’t been a concern for thousands of years for every society – it has been. But today the level to which youth is sold, bought and is a part of our everyday lives and success as human beings is just straight up absurd and unprecedented I would argue. Youth is a commodity, inextricably tied to everything else we do, see and hear. Especially for women – while men become distinguished with age, women diminish with age. For men, their achievements and success define their overall attractiveness, while for women, regardless of their own success, they are only as good as their last haircut, as Fran Leibowitz put it so wonderfully.
Oh for god’s sake, I’m only turning 23. I’m not old. I’m just breaking into my awesome potential! WORLD, WATCH ME NOW! YOU CAN’T HANDLE ME! I cannot wait to become my mother, as beautiful, elegant and wise as her hands tell the world that she is. Wrinkles, grey hairs and general saggy-ness are nothing to be afraid of! There are injections for those things, anyways.
Why am I writing this?
Oh yes. 19 year old roommate.